CPUC programs related to distributed generation resources.

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Mainspring Energy to Deploy Biogas Fueled Linear Generator in Napa Microgrid

Mainspring Energy and PG&E just announced the deployment of a linear generator—a new mobile power generation technology utilizing renewable biogas to displace existing diesel generation—at PG&E’s Angwin distribution microgrid site in Napa County.  The linear generator will help ensure clean, reliable power during emergencies like heat waves, winter storms or earthquakes, and Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events.  The linear generator is connected to both PG&E’s electric and natural gas systems and will use biogas fuel that is renewably produced at another location.

Mainspring’s breakthrough technology, based on research originally conducted by the company’s co-founders at Stanford University, is designed to meet grid demands by delivering dispatchable, fuel-flexible power that substantially reduces cost and carbon today, while accelerating the transition to the net-zero carbon grid.  One of the unique characteristics of the 240-kilowatt Mainspring linear generator is that it can ramp up and down quickly to meet power load demands at a fraction of the emissions of reciprocating engine technologies.

“Extreme weather events and the rise of electrification are driving increasing demands on the electric grid for resiliency at affordable costs. At the same time, we need to be moving rapidly toward a net-zero-carbon grid,” said Mainspring CEO Shannon Miller. “Mainspring designed our platform to meet this challenge, and we’re proud that our product is now deployed to help PG&E and its customers to address these challenges and provide them with a cleaner, resilient, and affordable source of power.”

A linear generator—distinct from an engine, microturbine, or fuel cell—is a device that directly converts motion along a straight line into electricity using chemical or thermal energy. The design of Mainspring’s linear generator uses a low-temperature reaction of air and fuel to drive magnets through copper coils to efficiently produce electricity. This innovative design, combined with the company’s proprietary adaptive control software, enables high efficiency, near-zero NOx emissions, full dispatchability, and seamless switching between fuels.

The product achieves low capital and maintenance costs through use of standard materials, only two moving parts, and an innovative air bearing system that eliminates the need for oil. It operates without the use of complex mechanical systems or expensive catalysts.

Driven by its vision of the affordable, reliable, net-zero carbon grid of the future, Mainspring is delivering a new category of power generation — the linear generator — that delivers onsite, dispatchable, fuel-flexible power at low cost. Based in Menlo Park, Calif., Mainspring is backed by top-tier venture, strategic, and financial investors. www.mainspringenergy.com.

Biomass Magazine features Phoenix Energy, forest BioMAT projects

Biomass Magazine’s August issue highlights the role of small-scale forest bioenergy projects to reduce wildfire risks and impacts.  The article focuses on Phoenix Energy’s North Fork project, West Biofuels’ Hat Creek project, and other BioMAT projects using forest waste to reduce wildfire risks.

See, Biomass Magazine August 2021

WATCH: HZI Converting Food Waste to Power and Compost in San Luis Obispo County

Hitachi Zosen Inova’s new bioenergy project in San Luis Obispo County is featured in this piece by KSBY.  The project is converting 72 million pounds of food and yard waste to renewable power that is sold to PG&E and compost that is used on surrounding farmland to return carbon and nutrients to the soil.

WATCH the news story here.

New Fact Sheet Highlights Job Benefits of Bioenergy

See the new Bioenergy and Jobs Fact Sheet developed by Gladstein, Neandross & Associates for BAC and CNGVP.  The fact sheet highlights the jobs and other economic benefits that bioenergy provides from a range of organic waste sources and bioenergy end uses, including electricity generation, pipeline biogas, carbon negative vehicle fuels, and more.

CA Board of Forestry Adopts Biomass Utilization Plan

On November 4, the California Board of Forestry adopted a forest biomass utilization plan that recommends many actions to put California’s extensive forest waste to beneficial re-use, including numerous bioenergy recommendations.  Some of the most important recommendations related to bioenergy are:

  • Consolidated permitting
  • State procurement of bioenergy
  • Inclusion of forest biomass in microgrid tariffs
  • Allocating 20% of electricity and gas R&D funding (EPIC and PIER) to forest biomass, including biomass to hydrogen projects
  • Adopting pipeline standards for biomass and hydrogen
  • Incentivizing both electricity and pipeline interconnection for forest biomass projects
  • Incentivizing use of forest biomass under the Low Carbon Fuel Standard
  • Increasing BioMAT category 3 (forest waste) to 250 MW and allowing Community Choice Aggregators (CCA’s) and publicly owned utilities to participate in the program
  • Requiring a portion of new RPS power to be baseload and flexible generation

Read:  Joint Institute Wood and Biomass Utilization Recommendations

CPUC Extends BioMAT Program, Adopts Important Changes

The CPUC voted 5-0 to extend the BioMAT program and make several critical changes to the program.  The CPUC’s Decision extends the program end date to the end of 2025.  This is critical since the utilities have only procured about 20 percent of the 250 megawatts required by the program.  The CPUC Decision also increases delivery flexibility for project developers, establishes deadlines for utilities to review project eligibility and approve contracts, and establishes a non-bypassable charge so that all rate-payers will share the costs of the program.  The CPUC proposed the non-bypassable charge in recognition of the fact that BioMAT projects provide important statewide benefits that all ratepayers should help to pay for, not just the purchasing utility’s customers.

See CPUC’s Proposed Decision on BioMAT (July 24, 2020), which was adopted by the Commission on August 28.

CPUC Votes to Re-Authorize EPIC Program

The CPUC voted unanimously to re-authorize the Electricity Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program for another ten years.  EPIC has provided about $165 million per year for the past decade to a variety of clean energy research, development, deployment, and market facilitation projects.  Many small-scale bioenergy projects have received EPIC funding to demonstrate new technologies, better quantify greenhouse gas reductions and other environmental benefits, improve pollution controls, and more.  In the past, the California Energy Commission has administered 80% of the EPIC funds and the utilities have administered the other 20%.  The CPUC’s Proposed Decision only re-authorizes the 80% of funding administered by the Energy Commission.  It will consider what the major funding categories should be and whether to re-authorize the utilties’ portion of funding in the next phase of the proceeding.

See CPUC’s Proposed Decision on EPIC Reauthorization, which was adopted on August 28.

BAC Members Receive Forest Service Wood Innovation Grants !!

Congratulations to BAC members Camptonville Community Partnership, CLERE, Inc., and the Mariposa Biomass Project, which were among 39 projects around the country to receive Wood Innovation Grants from the U.S. Forest Service.  The grants will help to develop much-needed forest biomass projects in local communities.  These projects will help to reduce the risks and spread of wildfire, provide renewable energy, reduce air pollution and climate emissions from burning of forest waste, and increase community resilience by providing jobs and local energy supplies.

Click here to learn more about the projects and the grants.

CLERE, Inc. Releases BioMAT Stepping Stones Guide

The BioMAT Stepping Stones Guide provides a step-by-step guide to participating in the BioMAT (small-scale bioenergy) program, administered by the state’s investor-owned utilities.

Download the BioMAT Stepping Stones Guide.

CPUC Orders Utilities to Execute BioMAT Contracts

Despite numerous Orders and direction from CPUC staff, PG&E and the other utilities were delaying executing a dozen BioMAT contracts that have been pending since last fall.  The CPUC rejected a motion by PG&E to suspend the BioMAT program, but then PG&E claimed that a federal court decision on the ReMAT program justified the utility’s continuing refusal to sign BioMAT contracts.  After reviewing the Winding Creek decision and parties’ comments on it, the CPUC ordered the utilities – yet again – to continue BioMAT contract execution.  The CPUC issued Resolution E-4922 on March 22, ordering PG&E and other utilities to continue BioMAT procurement and contract execution.

See CPUC’s Revised BioMAT Resolution (E-4992)